There are few things we value more than winning.  From t-ball to spelling bees to the professional sports franchise we personally adopt, nothing matches the thrill of finishing on top.  It impacts self-image, the way we relate to those around us, and even commerce.  (Ask the folks in New Orleans about victory’s impact on the economy and psyche of an entire region.)

While it’s tempting to go off on the relative value (or absence, thereof) of a distorted focus on winning when it comes to pre and elementary school ranks, that’s a debate for another day.  For today, as calls for collaboration, compromise and new solutions echo from boardrooms, C-suites and strategy sessions, a compulsion to win may be one of the greatest barriers to progress.

Here’s the question: is collaboration possible when everyone at the table is driven to win?

No matter the venue — political, personal or business — when winning is the measure of success the interaction resembles more an effort to convert than a commitment to collaborate. When leadership is measured in terms of litmus tests, compromise is difficult.   And in the context of unwavering agendas, real compromise is impossible.

Any of us hoping for compromise, not to mention sincerely wanting to collaborate — from political leader to C-Suite management — might do well to take a quick look at the definitions of compromise and collaborate.  And then check that drive to win at the door.